Be’er Sheva Court ruling on Guardian activists’ pet subject

 A guest post by Hadar Sela

As long-time readers of Cif Watch are well aware, the subject of the demolition of repeatedly illegally constructed buildings at Al Arakib in the Negev has been adopted by the Guardian as something of a cause celebre.

In July 2010 CiF provided a platform for Neve Gordon to accuse Israel of carrying out ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Negev Bedouin when illegally built structures in Al Arakib were demolished by the Israeli authorities and the Guardian still carries a video on the subject.

In March 2011 Harriet Sherwood jumped on the bandwagon with her report from Al Arakib, quoting Ben Gurion University’s Professor Oren Yiftachel (Neve Gordon’s colleague) as an authority on “Judaisation of the Negev”.

In October 2011 CiF ran an article by MK Talab el Sana which repeated the ‘ethnic cleansing’ theme, as did a letter signed by most of the ‘who’s who’ of British anti-Israel activists published by the Guardian on the same day.

CiF Watch has provided background information and links to the outcomes of some of the many court cases on the subject of Al Arakib here, here, here and here.

On March 15th 2012, Judge Sarah Dovrat of the Be’er Sheva District Court gave her ruling after yet another protracted court case.  

“Seventeen Beduin, members of the al-Uqbi family, filed the six land claims. The complex and often bitter legal proceedings went on for over six years, and discussed in detail the history of the Negev Beduin and land laws dating back to the mid-19th century. The Beduin claim the land had belonged to their families since before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and that it had come into their possession by means of purchase and inheritance over generations.”

“Significantly, the land in question – south of the Beduin city of Rahat – includes the hotly contested area known as al-Arakib, the site of an ongoing and bitter conflict between Beduin and the state. Temporary shacks built by the Beduin in al-Arakib were demolished by the state and rebuilt on more than 10 occasions, the last in 2010, and last year the state filed a NIS 1.8 million lawsuit against two Beduin families over the issue.”

Guardian interviewee Oren Yiftachel appeared as an expert witness on behalf of the plaintiffs. The Judge took the unusual step of noting in her closing remarks Yiftachel’s somewhat less than professional behavior in that role.

“I felt uncomfortable with Prof. Yiftachel’s cross-examination when it transpired that he relied on sources and quoted from them without bothering to read them, instead he quoted from quotes that appeared in a different source. The expert’s squirming on the witness stand on this matter, not only left an uncomfortable feeling, more accurately a sense of embarrassment for the expert, for the predicament in which he found himself. The expert should not only be objective, in offering his opinion, but he should also read the sources to which he refers, or he should immediately state, without prevaricating, that he relied on secondary sources instead of undergoing lengthy and embarrassing questioning, at the end of which he confesses that that is the case, and there is no need to add more. A glimpse of his cross examination will suffice and I will not expound further on this.”

Judge Dovrat’s decision makes for fascinating reading, especially to anyone interested in the issue of the Ottoman-era land laws which are so central to the Al Arakib dispute. The entire decision is available in Hebrew here. Sections of the decision relating to Oren Yiftachel’s testimony can be read in English here and a newspaper report on the case here.

“They [the plaintiffs] also contended that the Ottoman, and later the British, authorities had granted legal autonomy to the Negev Beduin to organize land ownership according to Beduin law, which is why it was not registered as theirs in the Tabu.

However, the court did not accept this claim, saying that if the Ottoman authorities had wished to exempt a particular population from the law, then they would have done so explicitly.

Rejecting the claims, Judge Sarah Dovrat concluded the the land in question had not been “assigned to the plaintiffs, nor held by them under conditions required by law.”

“Regardless of whether the land was Mawat or Miri, the complainants must still prove their rights to the land by proof of its registration in the Tabu,” the judge said.”


“The judge held that the plaintiffs’ documents indicated that they knew they had a duty to register land in the “Tabu” (the land registry) but had not wanted to do so. “The state said that although the complainants are not entitled to compensation, it has been willing to negotiate with them,” the judge added. “It is a shame that these negotiations did not reach any agreement.””

This, however, is unlikely to be the last we will hear of Al Arakib either in the Israeli courts or on the pages of the Guardian as the plaintiffs are apparently now considering appealing to the Supreme Court. 

Ezra Nawi and an Irish Scandal: A praised Guardian “activist” is now not so praiseworthy

A guest post by AKUS

A long time ago – actually, on July 3, 2009 – before the Guardian decided to ban me from commenting on CiF, the Guardian ran one of its “In Praise” editorials – this time In praise of … Ezra Nawi.  

Ezra Nawi, a fanatically anti-Israeli Israeli, was to be tried for assaulting a police officer while interfering with the removal of an illegal Bedouin settlement. This was a follow-up to a previous tear-jerker on the same topic by the reprehensible Israeli BDS supporter, Neve Gordon – Israeli activist to be jailed for caring.

Nawi has a long history of anti-Israeli activities. Both articles played fast and loose with the truth about the case and his personal history, which is no surprise given that they appeared in the Guardian. You can read commentary by Abtalyon and, yes, AKUS, in the threads below the line, pointing out the numerous errors and falsifications in both articles.

Neve Gordon went to some trouble to describe Ezra Nawi as a simple, high-minded and special person, even pointing out his relatively unique status as a gay Israeli of Iraqi Jewish origins and his humble proletarian class-status as “a plumber by trade”:

Nawi is not a typical rights activist. A member of Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership he is a Jewish Israeli of Iraqi descent who speaks fluent Arabic. He is a gay man in his fifties and a plumber by trade. Perhaps because he himself comes from the margins, he empathises with others who have been marginalised – often violently. 

Now a political scandal in Ireland reveals that Ezra Nawi was not always the simple and heroic soul Gordon and the Guardian were so anxious to defend and praise. The Guardian may have been ignorant of Nawi’s past (after all, ignorance about Israel is a hallmark of Guardian reporting on Israel), but one can only wonder whether Gordon decided to avoid mentioning a rather unsavory event from Nawi’s background.

In Ireland, a scandal has erupted because it turns out that a gay Irish politician named Senator David Norris, who is (or perhaps now we should say, was)  running for the presidency of Ireland, had Ezra Nawi as his partner for 30 years  and intervened in an earlier court case brought against Nawi in 1992. In that case, Nawi was convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year old boy.  According to the Daily Mail report:

In the eight-page letter on official notepaper to the Israeli court dealing with Nawi, Mr. Norris described him as a trustworthy, good and moral person for whom the ‘present difficulty’ is uncharacteristic.

Neither the Guardian nor Neve Gordon mentioned the trustworthy and moral Mr. Nawi’s prior conviction in their articles. Did Neve Gordon know about Nawi’s less than praiseworthy past? Well, in the Guardian’s archives, there is yet another article from November 29, 2004, in praise of Ezra Nawi, this time by Dafna Baram- My plumber, the hero .  Baram is a virulently anti-Israeli contributor of articles to the Guardian from a famous Israeli family.  Her article has the following reveling information:

Ezra came round straight away; he was cheap, efficient and accompanied by a gorgeous young Palestinian.

Further into Baram’s article, we meet one of Ezra’s lovers, Fuad, a West Bank Arab. Then the second intifada breaks out and the Israeli police wish to return Fuad to the West Bank. This poses a serious threat to Fuad’s life according to Baram:

For Fuad, returning there [to Ramallah] as an openly gay man was not far short of suicide…

Although at the time this probably did not mean much to the Guardian’s readers, in the light of the Irish political scandal it becomes interesting to note that Ezra the humble plumber living his activist life in caves near Hebron taps his extensive network of foreign contacts for support to prevent Fuad from being returned to the West Bank. The timing that Baram provides is also interesting in light of the 1992 case:

Five years ago, [i.e., in 1999] he showed up with Fuad, who was here to stay. They had had their fling four years earlier, [i.e. 1995] but this time it was love. … Soon enough, nearly every human rights organisation in Israel, and quite a few abroad, were involved in the Ezra and Fuad case…

Well, once again, it looks like the Guardian, ardent supporter of Hamas and determined foe of Israel may have some back tracking to do – except it never does.

In case you might wonder how the Guardian would protect Ezra Nawi, so suddenly and embarrassingly revealed as a convicted rapist, consider this article from August 2nd, 2011 – Scandal scuppers prospect of Ireland electing first gay president. The Guardian, ever eager to point out the misdeeds of this or that Israeli, or this or that politician, carefully hides the identity of its praiseworthy hero in the header and sub-header in a way designed, apparently, to evoke sympathy for Norris and an unnamed former partner:

“David Norris drops out of race over revelation he pleaded for clemency for former partner over rape of 15-year-old boy”

But a little deeper in, Nawi’s name emerges:

David Norris announced he was withdrawing from the contest after it emerged he had written to the Israeli authorities in 1997 appealing for clemency for his former partner, Ezra Yitzhak Nawi. The Israeli peace activist was later found guilty of the statutory rape of the Palestinian boy and served time in prison.

Courtesy of the Guardian, we have had the faked Al Durrah affair, the “Jenin Massacre” that never happened, the various lies about Cast Lead, the disaster of the repudiated Goldstone report, the embarrassing blow-up of the Palestinian Leaks, the Mavi Marmara affair determined by the UN to be exactly the opposite to what the Guardian has reported, and the rubbish about Israel – posted by commentators like Ben White, Rachel Shabi, Mya Guarnieri, Harriet Sherwood, and on and on – which we have debunked time after time on these pages.

Now we have the Ezra Nawi affair that once again shows the laxness of the Guardian’s reporting about Israel. One can only wonder if there was a deliberate cover up that involved Baram, Gordon, and the Guardian.  They all presented Nawi as a simple plumber (“Ezra Nawi lives on the modest wages he earns as a plumber” according to the Guardian). However, the humble proletarian activist, Ezra Nawi, it turns out, has a network of international contacts the Clintons might envy and a less than savory past that it is hard to believe that at least Gordon and Baram did not know about.

Pardon my Schadenfreude as they all examine this anti-Israeli activist’s feet of clay.

Harriet Sherwood: Faithful Camp-Follower at Al Arakib.

With much of the Arab world currently in dramatic turmoil, news from Israel has taken something of a back seat on the pages of CiF lately, but Harriet Sherwood sought to remedy that on March 1st with her report’ from Al Arakib Like Bil’in, Al Arakib has been deliberately engineered by interested parties into becoming a focal point of pilgrimage for activists belonging to left-wing extremist organisations and their entourage of foreign correspondent camp-followers.

And what a faithful camp-follower Sherwood proves herself to be! Unquestioningly she parrots the party line, according to which Israel destroys time after time a Bedouin village inhabited by noble nomads for generations, uprooting trees and murdering chickens (again!) along the way. She does not even attempt to inject any sense of balance or objectivity into this article by offering the point of view of, say, the Israeli judicial system which has been dealing with the subject of Al Arakib for well over a decade.  She does not even bother to point out that unproved Bedouin claims to the land have become a political issue which extends far beyond the Negev and has come to represent the entire conflict in one small micro-climate.

Instead, she backs up her emotionally-loaded polemics with quotations from Oren Yiftachel and one of the ‘residents’ of Al Arakib (more of that later), Aziz Sayah Abu Mdagen.

Oren Yiftachel holds a day job at Ben Gurion University, specialising in political geography. He is also the co-chair of B’Tselem and has created controversy by calling for international sanctions against Israel during Operation Cast Lead and supporting a Palestinian ‘right of return’. He calls the country which pays his salary a jailer state’ and claims that

“Palestinian violence, and particularly the shelling from Gaza should also be perceived as a prison uprising, currently suppressed with terror by the Israeli state, which kills many more civilians and creates infinitely more damage than the initial act of resistance.”

In other words, if a journalist were looking for an objective and politically unbiased source through which to expand his or her understanding of the events in Al Arakib, Oren Yiftachel who, like his colleague Neve Gordon has been heavily instrumental in the politicising of this land dispute, is not the person on whom to rely.

Let’s face it; anybody who can talk about “Jewish trees” with a straight face is not to be taken seriously. Someone who trots out slogans such as ‘Judaisation of the Negev’ clearly has a whole crate of axes to grind seeing as the Negev lies undisputedly within Israeli territory. But seeing as those axes are ones to which Sherwood is sympathetic, she ignores the warning signs and proceeds to quote Yiftachel as though he were some kind of objective authority.

As CiF Watch readers will be aware, we have covered the subject of the Al Arakib dispute quite extensively in the past due to the Guardian’s making it something of a ‘cause celebre’.

In July 2010 we responded to an article from Neve Gordon on the same subject, but obviously Harriet Sherwood did not bother to read the either the Court decisions or the background information on land disputes included in that article.  In August 2010 Akus highlighted the Guardian’s double standards on this issue and later that month we posted a translation of an article from an Israeli newspaper which exposes the fact that the so-called ‘residents’ of Al Arakib actually own extensive properties in the nearby Bedouin city of Rahat.

What a pity then that Harriet Sherwood apparently did not read our article. She could have avoided looking so silly had she asked her interviewee Aziz Sayah Abu Mdagen (sometimes spelt Madiram or Mudigam) to show her round his family home in neighbourhood 25 of Rahat, just a short way from Al Arakib, instead of obediently revelling in the radical-chic ecstasy of writing emotive descriptions of dead chickens, uprooted trees and piled-up mattresses that nobody needs to sleep on because they own villas with bedrooms in Rahat.

It is more than apparent that like many of her countrymen before her, Sherwood is dazzled by romantic ideas of tent-living, goat-herding, camel-riding hospitable Bedouin living eco-friendly low-tech lives in the desert. To many of her readers, these people represent a fashionable innocence they themselves feel deprived of by modern life in the West. And if these noble Bedouin conveniently double-up as pawns in their political crusades against the State of Israel, then that is even better.

The reality of Bedouin life is of course very different from Sherwood’s puerile fantasies. Not only do most of them today live in urban environments just like anyone else, but they also enjoy the advantages  of modern life such as transport and technology, along with benefits such as education, healthcare, social services, potable water and sewage disposal which nomadic life did not furnish. Not that all is entirely rosy, of course, but Sherwood would not risk spoiling the romantic notions in her readers’ minds – or her own –  by reporting on subjects such as a recent attempted ‘honour killing’ in Rahat (not, unfortunately, a rare incident in some sections of Israeli society), the recent murder of a young man from Rahat by two of his classmates or the destruction of 3,000 trees late last year, allegedly by two Bedouin and possibly as ‘revenge’ for the incidents at Al Arakib.

An even more revealing indictment of Sherwood’s clear bias and employment of events at Al Arakib as a means of attacking Israel’s legitimacy is the fact that this week also saw violent clashes at Havat Gilad when representatives of the Civil Authority and police arrived there to destroy illegally built constructions on exactly the same legal basis as the demolitions at Al Arakib.  The difference is, of course, that the residents of Havat Gilad are Jewish (and ‘settlers’ too) and so Harriet Sherwood is nowhere on the horizon and the Guardian will not be commissioning an article from Neve Gordon or any other members of its stable of ‘tame’ Israelis.

If incidents cannot be spun and employed against Israel, the faithful camp-followers are not interested. Not only is that not ‘fair and balanced’; it isn’t even reporting. It is unadulterated political propaganda in the very worst Soviet tradition and journalists who willingly prostitute their profession by co-operating with that have no grounds on which to claim accolades as ‘the world’s leading liberal voice’.

CiF legitimizes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, again

Take a look at the article entitled “On Palestine, the US is a rogue state” by John Whitbeck which was published on CiF on December 29th.

Now see this article entitled “Palestinian Statehood: Quality as Well as Quantity” by house contributor John Whitbeck from the Palestine Chronicle of December 22nd.

Spot the difference? No, neither can I. The Guardian has merely recycled Whitbeck’s article from a website known for its virulent anti-Zionism. Although the Palestine Chronicle claims that its writers do not “champion any specific political agenda”, according to Honest Reporting:

“It’s honorary editorial board includes Hanan Ashrawi and Noam Chomsky and writers and contributors include a number of known anti-Israel activists such as Neve Gordon and the anti-Semitic Gilad Atzmon.”

So despite the well-known and documented insistence that it is “fair and balanced”, CiF has now resorted to simply regurgitating propaganda from a virulently anti-Israel Palestinian-run website.

As for Mr. Whitbeck himself, well his years spent in Jeddah appear to have infected him with that peculiar local ability to perceive Zionist tentacles round every corner.

“The US, subservient to Israel, stands out”

“Western politicians and the western media customarily apply the term “international community” to the United States and whatever countries are willing to publicly support it on a given issue, and apply the term “rogue state” to any country that actively resists Israeli-American global domination.”

By its slavish subservience to Israel – as reflected yet again, both in the absence of a single brave voice raised against this new House resolution and in the Obama administration’s recently rejected offer of a huge military and diplomatic bribe to Israel in reward for a mere 90-day suspension of its illegal colonisation programme – the United States has effectively excluded itself from the true international community (redefined to refer to the great majority of mankind) and become a true rogue state, acting in consistent and flagrant contempt of both international law and fundamental human rights.”

(My emphasis)

The fact that Whitbeck, suspended from practicing law for four years in 2001 – due to his involvement in money laundering for a boss who was named in a French parliamentary report from 2002 as connected to the financial networks of Al Qaida – is lecturing readers of “the world’s leading liberal voice” on issues of right and wrong is mind-boggling in itself.

That CiF continues to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories (Jewish power controlling American foreign policy) is simply reprehensible.

Times must be very hard if the Guardian has to stoop so low.

Ethnic Cleansing, real and imagined

“Historically, there was an exchange of populations in the Middle East and the number of displaced Jews exceeds the number of Palestinian Arab refugees. Most of the Jews were expelled as a result of an open policy of anti-Semitic incitement and even ethnic cleansing. However, unlike the Arab refugees, the Jews who fled are a forgotten case because of a combination of international cynicism and domestic Israeli suppression of the subject. The Palestinians are the only group of refugees out of the more than one hundred million who were displaced after World War II who have a special UN agency that, according to its mandate, cannot but perpetuate their tragedy. An open debate about the exodus of the Jews is critical for countering the Palestinian demand for the “right of return” and will require a more objective scrutiny of the myths about the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” – Avi Becker

The Israelis are the worst ethnic cleansers on the planet.  They have consistently, throughout their 62 year history – despite its dastardly desire (according to its critics) to cleanse the state of its non-Jewish citizens - allowed the Arab/Muslim community to grow exponentially throughout the years.

However, the insidious charge of ethnic cleansing against Israel at the Guardian is so frequent its become a banality. Ben White, Gideon Levy, Seth FreedmanNeve Gordon, Daphna BaramKen Livingstone and others casually employ such vitriol.

Most recently, a letter was published in CiF by serial Israel haters, again leveling the charge of ethnic cleansing, imploring Labor’s new leader, Ed Miliband, to break from tradition and withdraw his support for the Jewish National Fund.  The open letter was signed by (among others) Tony GreensteinProfessor Moshe Machover, and Professor Mona Baker.

Ethnic Cleansing” is typically described as the planned deliberate removal from a specific territory, persons of a particular ethnic group, by force or intimidation.

Indeed, such a definition perfectly describes the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries between 1948 and 1967.

In April 2008 a bipartisan resolution (H. Con. Res. 185) passed the U.S. Congress that recognized the forgotten exodus of nine hundred thousand Jews from Arab countries who “were forced to flee and in some cases brutally expelled amid coordinated violence and anti-Semitic incitement that amounted to ethnic cleansing.”

Between the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Six Day War in 1967, there was a mass Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim lands, Jews  that either fled from persecution and anti-Semitism or were forcibly expelled.  They were ethnically cleansed from their homeland. Most migrated to Israel, where today, they and their descendants constitute about 40% of Israel’s population.

In all, (approximately) there were 856,000 Jews living in Arab countries in 1948, while today the population is about 5100.  That means that over 99% of Arab Jews have been cleansed from Arab lands.

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The Guardian and Yom Kippur

A guest post by AKUS

The Guardian has become notorious for the dissemination of anti-Israeli articles. Many contain factual errors, some outright lies, but we never see significant attempts by the Guardian to correct its errors. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are about the year that has passed, and the year ahead. We examine our souls and our conduct towards others, and ask forgiveness for our sins and faults. It is time for the Guardian to conduct a “cheshbon nefesh” – an accounting of one’s conscience – for the New Year. I will be even more specific – it is time for the Guardian’s Jewish writers to issue apologies for the attacks against Israel that they have largely led on the Guardian’s website.

This year, once again, we have had several egregious and inflammatory articles run by the Guardian. Perhaps the worst was a story about rape in Israel that that was picked up by the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood on July 21st and repeated on July 25th in more detail as Saber Kushour: ‘My conviction for “rape by deception” has ruined my life’ . The articles built on extraordinary claims made largely by Israel’s home-grown hater, Gideon Levy, of Israeli racism when an Arab was apparently found to have committed “rape by deception”.

Rachel Shabi had no trouble using this issue on July 23rd as the “hook” for an article with the attention-grabbing headline Israel turns on its own.  Shabi’s article played to all the tropes so beloved by the Guardian’s Israel haters (Israel as a racist, violent, European, Mizrachi- and Arab hating implant in the Islamic world). But it was her brief reference to the rape case (“and now a Palestinian man from Jerusalem has just been convicted of rape after pretending to be Jewish and having consensual sex. This verdict, in effect turning the obfuscation of race into a criminal offence, also reveals the extent to which Israelis consider Palestinians to be abhorrent”) that  resulted in the extraordinarily large number of 591 comments below the line:

Arch Israel-hater JRuskin (formerly Moeran) was quick to pick up on the allusion to the rape case:

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The Guardian’s White Elephant

Ben White was back on CiF on August 17th with yet another anti-Israel diatribe, this time on the subject of the ‘colonisation’ of the Jordan Valley.

Taking a leaf from Neve Gordon’s book, he claims that Israel is ‘ethnically cleansing’ Bedouins  from the area, without addressing the real issues of illegal building without permits and land grabs  – in the case of Al Farsiya, in a military zone. Not content with that, he criticizes the existence of security check points within the region using a report by the UN Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as the basis for his argument. Yes; that is the same OCHA which permitted an announcement to be made on its official website lauding the anti-Semite Yasser Kashlak.

Ben White is obviously well aware that the type of audience which reads his CiF columns does not usually demand that his material come from objective sources, or that he present both points of view of an event or situation. Such pedantry would obviously dilute the concentration of the anti-Israel fix he strives to provide. Neither do most CiF readers demand that events be viewed in the context of documented history, which is probably something of a relief for a polemicist like White, as he would otherwise have been obliged to explain the whole issue of the Oslo accords and Area C (which includes the Jordan Valley), retained by Israel according to those agreements, which were signed in person by Mahmoud Abbas.  He would have had to elaborate on the subject of the five year transitional period before permanent status negotiations as specified in those accords and how the Palestinian decision to opt for terror prevented those permanent status negotiations from ever taking place.  Who knows; he may even have had to come to the conclusion that had the Palestinian Authority not chosen to renege on the agreements they had signed, or had accepted Clinton’s ‘Bridging Proposals’ in 2000,  the Jordan Valley would by now have been under their permanent control.

Such intricacies are, however, far too complicated for a one trick pony such as Ben White. He much prefers the tried and tested method of base sloganeering, as demonstrated in this article, employing phrases such as “land seizure and ethnic cleansing”, “colonies”, and “a stark example of Israeli apartheid”. No surprises there; we are all too familiar with White’s bigoted, if not downright anti-Semitic, descriptions of Israela nation he deems guilty of ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘death marches’, ‘massacres’, ‘colonisation’, ‘racism’, and last but not least ‘apartheid’.  He has characterized Zionism as an ideology of extermination, has promoted sanctions and boycotts against Israel, advocated a one-state ‘solution’ and downplayed (or downright excused) Palestinian violence against Israelis many times before. We have even seen him express his belief that anti-Semitism is an “understandable” reaction to Israeli behavior, and sourcing material from a Holocaust denier for his book.

As Eric Lee so accurately puts it:

“But when you grieve over the suffering — the genuine suffering, I might add — of the Palestinians, but feel nothing in your heart for the suffering of the Jews; when every mention of the Israelis is entirely negative, portraying them as monsters — you are not longer a critic and instead have become a bigot.”

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The Guardian needs to print an urgent retraction and apology

Readers will surely remember Neve Gordon’s libellous article of July 29th in which he claimed that Israel had carried out ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Bedouins in the Negev region.  Last weekend (August 13th 2010) an interesting article by Kalman Livskind appeared in the supplement of the Ma’ariv newspaper which I think is worth translating in full.

“I find myself once more having to address the subject of the destruction of the illegal Bedouin gathering at Arakib and I will continue to do so for as long as the lying propaganda of the Left wing organizations and the ‘Ha’aretz’ newspaper on the subject continues.

‘Around 300 residents and among them many children were left not only homeless for the most part, but also degraded, frustrated and shocked’ was written this week in an editorial in the newspaper. ‘The State did not offer any alternative, compensation or aid, material or psychological, to residents whose village was destroyed and their world fell in upon them’. And now to the facts. Firstly, in Arakib there were never 300 people or even 100. Secondly, no worlds fell in. A few tens of residents of (the town of) Rahat took over that land only eight years ago and constructed several buildings without asking for permits from anyone, and now the State has come and enforced the law. Compensation? Aid? For what?

In addition the time has come to dismantle the fabrication invented by ‘Ha’aretz’ about Bedouins ‘remaining homeless’ once and for all. Write this down: 12 heads of households received eviction papers. All of them own villas of at least 200 square meters on a dunam of land in Neighbourhood 25 in Rahat. The villa of Abdallah Abu Madiram is house number 108 in the neighbourhood. One of his sons, Nidal, is at house number 27 and the other, Eyad, at house number 102. Siyah Abu Madiram lives at house number 25 with his children Aziz and Ali. Mohamed Said Abu Madiram lives at house number 26, like his brother Suliman. Salim Abu Madiram lives at house number 112, Ismail Abu Madiram at house number 8, Mohamed Salame Abu Madiram at house number 23 and Suliman Abu Jabar at house number 139. They are not unfortunate, not miserable and not homeless. Enough of this bluff.”

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The Guardian’s anti-Israel Jews, and a letter to my teenage nephew

CiF’s Jewish Israel defamers

When joining the team here at CiF Watch, and attempting to understand why Jewish writers for the Guardian are often among the most vociferous in expressing their contempt for Israel, and so willing to demonize the state’s Jewish supporters, I had to get up to speed on the termTheobald Jew.”

I soon learned that:

According to the Benedictine monk Thomas of Monmouth in his The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (1173), it was an apostate Jew, a certain Theobald, who, swore that Jews had killed twelve-year old William, a tanner’s apprentice, to fulfill their “Passover blood ritual” in the fateful year of 1144—the first recorded such episode in a long line of murderous defamations.

The CiF contributors I refer to include Naomi KleinNeve Gordon, Richard SilversteinAntony LermanSeth FreedmanTony Greenstein, among others.  These Jewish writers don’t merely critique Israeli policy, but routinely engage in hyperbole, vitriol, and gross distortions.  Their rhetoric is often spewed with hate towards the Jewish state, all but ignoring the behavior of her enemies - the terrorist and reactionary movements who openly seek her annihilation.  Such commentators often infer that the democratic Jewish state (the most progressive nation, by far, in the region) is almost always in the wrong, is usually motivated by a hideous malevolence, and represents a national  movement which they, as Jews, are ashamed to be associated with.

Freedman, for instance, has suggested that Israel is a theocracy – one which is on moral par with Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. Gordon has on several occasions accused Israel of ethnic cleansing - once advancing such an ugly calumny in the radical anti-Zionist magazine, Counterpunch.  Tony Greenstein has ardently defended the ugly comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, typically advanced by extremists. Richard Silverstein has called the behavior of Israelis serving in the IDFsubhuman“, and has defended Hamas from “charges” that they are an extremist movement. Naomi Klein actually accused Israel of being so cruel and sadistic as to “bury children alive in their homes.”

While, for the Guardian, employing the services of Theobald Jews serves to inoculate them from charges of anti-Semitism, such Jewish writers, in return, receive the progressive and universalist credentials they so eagerly seek.

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When in Paris do as the Parisians do … just don’t do it in Israel.

A guest post by AKUS

We were recently treated to another Neve Gordon special on the Guardian’s CiF website, accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” because it actually had the temerity to remove 300 Bedouins (by Gordon’s count) from an illegal encampment of what he referred to as the Bedouin village of al-Arakib. The article is so full of half-truths and inflammatory language that it is worth reviewing how this tenured professor at Ben Gurion University keeps his thumb on the scale when reporting on the removal of a squatter camp.

“I drove towards al-Arakib, a Bedouin village located not more than 10 minutes from the city”

Al-Arakib is not a “village”. It is the location of a site where some Bedouin decided that they would build what is delicately referred to in Israel as an “unrecognized settlement”. That is to say, a settlement built illegally on land that does not belong to them. Since it is “unrecognized” you will search in vain for it on a map, and it is not connected (legally) to electrical power, nor does it have a source of water nor is it connected to a sewage facility. To add insult to injury, this lack of services then becomes a source of further indignant claims against the State of Israel.  Gordon finished his article with a paragraph that included the following denunciation of Israel: “There are 155,000 Bedouins in the Negev, and more than half of them live in unrecognised villages without electricity or running water”.

“A whole village comprising between 40 and 45 houses had been completely razed in less than three hours.”

Gordon knows perfectly well, as does anyone who drives from Beersheba northwards to Tel Aviv, that “villages” like this comprise largely a set of makeshift tin shanties and tents. It would simply be referred to as a squatter camp in most countries but he tries to create the impression of a significant community of permanent homes. The Jerusalem Post reported that “Eleven cinderblock buildings and 34 made of tin were demolished, the ILA [Israel Lands Administration] said.”

Gordon made the further claim that “all around them uprooted olive trees lay on the ground”, but the JP reported that “Some 850 trees were removed and will be replanted elsewhere. The ILA said the uprooted trees had been planted by residents to strengthen their claim to the illegal settlement”.

As a member of the BGU faculty, moreover one obsessed with the issue of the legitimacy of the claims (except, of course, of Jews) to these barren lands, Gordon also must know perfectly well that the Bedouin claim to lands in the area is being disputed in the courts in Beer Sheva and the Bedouin claims are, by most estimates, quite doubtful. In an example of the topsy-turvy thinking that pervades the world of those who feel that anyone who is not Jewish has a natural right to build whatever and wherever he likes in Israel, the attorney for the Bedouin, the notorious Michael Sfard – see NGO-Monitor’s report on Sfard’s work on behalf of Shawan Jabarin, a Palestinian with alleged ties to the PFLP terrorist organization – makes a “now you see it-now you don’t” claim:

According to Sfard, the Ottoman authorities bought the land on which Be’er Sheva was built from the Bedouin, and the Jewish National Fund also bought land from them during the British Mandate era.

Well, that seems pretty cut and dried – at best, if these nomads ever owned the land (a contradiction in terms in and of itself), they sold it. But wait – Sfard then comes up with an amazing non-sequitur:

Hence the Bedouin’s ownership of the lands was acknowledged.

Thus, since they sold the land, they must have once owned the land … and therefore, even if they sold it they still own it …!!

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A Step too far: The Guardian again gives Neve Gordon the chance to delegitimize Israel

Thirty pieces of silver have apparently morphed with time into the £75 said to be paid by the Guardian for commissioned articles including those, no matter how far removed from the facts, which delegitimize and defame the Jewish state.

Regular readers of CiF will by now have become accustomed to the ideologically dictated rants of Neve Gordon and his rather unfortunate habit of spitting into the well from which he drinks, but with his latest CiF article Gordon and the Guardian have gone a step too far in their mutual crusade against the State of Israel and crossed the all-important red line between criticism (however biased or ridiculous) and libel.

The title of this diatribe is “Ethnic cleansing in the Israeli Negev” and the theme is continued in the body of the article itself which means that we cannot let Gordon off the hook by blaming some editor with comprehension difficulties; this is a joint effort. The definition of ethnic cleansing is “the attempt to create ethnically homogenous geographic areas through the deportation or forcible displacement of persons belonging to particular ethnic groups”. This is not what happened at Al Arakib on July 27th, and as a resident of the Negev, Neve Gordon knows that full well.

What did take place at Al Arakib was an attempt by the Israeli authorities to enforce the laws of the land in a geographical area with a population regrettably notorious for flouting them. The events of that morning are merely the result of years of refusal by the evictees to comply with the law and this particular case is only the tip of a very large iceberg.

For around a decade Israeli courts and various official bodies have been dealing with the case of Al Arakib and the numerous appeals presented by the Al Aoukab Bedouin tribe regarding this particular piece of land. The amount of documentation on the subject is huge, but the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court from 2006 gives an insight into the case which Neve Gordon obviously did not bother to investigate before he put digit to keyboard.

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Bullyboy Beef

Another day at the Guardian; another Neve Gordon pro-boycott article; another example of the Durban I  delegitimization and demonization strategy at work.

So why now? Well, as recently mentioned on these pages, the Israeli government has finally begun to refuse to take its country’s delegitimization lying down and that includes coming to terms with people such as Neve Gordon himself. This means that the BDS supporters, who until now have enjoyed a free rein to promote their demonizing and delegitimizing strategies unhindered both at home and abroad, suddenly have to reckon with opposition to their point of view, and they appear not to like it. Apparently, Gordon believes that hiding behind the Guardian’s skirts will help his case, which he presents in this article using two main, albeit very weak, points.

His first point is that Israel is wrong, and until it changes its ways, he has no choice but to punish it. Like some Victorian patriarch from an era gone by, Gordon expounds his ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ doctrine which lies behind the promotion of the BDS campaign, all but telling us that this is hurting him more than it is us.

“[T]he occupation will not end unless Israelis understand that it has a price.”

The trouble is, of course, that some of us wayward souls who (to his misfortune) are Gordon’s fellow citizens remember that the territories only came under Israeli control because three Arab states and their armies, with the support of six other Arab countries and the PLO, tried to annihilate our 19 year-old state. Neither do we forget the ‘Three Nays’ of the Khartoum Resolutions of September 1967 which slammed the door both on peace and the relinquishing of those territories and thus paved the way to the next terrible Arab-initiated war six years later.

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The Nest of Vipers

This is a guest post from The Bagelnosher Blog

BGU – Ben Gurion University of the Negev – suffered parallel snake problems this week. On two separate occasions, they had to deal with serpents in their midst.

One of the critters they had captured, bagged and hauled away. But when confronted with the other snake, this one they wanted to keep right where he was — in front of the classroom.

The first serpent – a black three-foot long species native to Israel – surprised the staff when it was spotted lurking behind a desk at the nanotechnology building on the University’s main campus. Officials called Beersheba’s official snake catcher who responded to the scene. “The snake wasn’t a poisonous variety,” the snake removal man said afterward. “It appeared to have gotten into the building through an improperly secured air vent. The snake was aggressive, but I caught it and later released it in a remote place where it won’t do any harm.”

The second, equally aggressive, snake is far more dangerous. This one, known as Neve Gordon, walks upright on his own two feet, although he, too, lurks behind a desk at BGU where he’s spent almost a decade bombarding students with his anti-Israel, anti-Semitic tirades. This snake in the grass is treated far differently by BGU officials. Not only was Neve Gordon not bagged and hauled away — instead, the President of BGU, Rivka Carmi, promoted him.


Up to now, Neve Gordon had been merely a “lecturer” but this week, he was promoted to “Assistant Professor.” For an undistinguished academic, whose writings tend toward hysterical anti-Israel propaganda, how did they justify it? Officials assembled a panel of far-leftist evaluators, who requested letters from other far-leftist anti-Israel radicals, and that did it. Like promotes like.

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Gordon’s Jinn

I have long suspected that Neve Gordon lives in some sort of parallel universe where as if by magic, he manages to turn good into bad, wrong into right, true into false. After reading his CiF article of December 23rd, I’m even more dismayed by the man’s attempts to distort reality into something which serves his purpose.

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All About Zion?

This is a guest post from Seismic Shock

As Israeli professor Neve Gordon makes headlines around the world following his call for a wholesale boycott of Israel on CommentIsFree, it is no surprise to see CIF‘s Ben White vigorously defend Gordon.

White blogs about Neve Gordon, highlighting a sentence in The Nation about reaction to Gordon’s article:

‘Mention boycott in a discussion of Israel, and chances are you’ll find yourself the butt of vicious attacks.’

But is Ben White also the ‘butt of vicious attacks’? He has complained about his critics in the past. Writing on Liberal Conspiracy, White protests:

‘A favourite tactic of die-hard defenders of Israel is to smear critics of the country’s policies through guilt by association, lies, and decontextualised quotations.

I have come to know this latter strategy quite well.’

For Ben White, it’s All About Zion. White sees himself as ‘a critic of the country’s policies’, and his critics in turn are ‘die-hard defenders of Israel’, seemingly obsessed with Zionism.

Yet Ben White is not your average critic of Israel, nor even your average boycotter of Israel. White has even stated ‘I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are.’ There is a strong religious dimension to Ben White’s anti-Zionism. White gives talks in churches and theological colleges, and his writing is praised by vicars, archbishops and other prominent clergymen. His book on Israel has received positive reviews on the Ekklesia website, an evangelical blog, and his letter in the Independent on Israel’s 60th birthday has raised his profile significantly amongst Christians.

He has previously written on CIF in praise of Christian “anti-Zionists” Colin Chapman and Stephen Sizer, who have developed a theology which suggests that the modern state of Israel is an offence to God, as Jews are no longer God’s Chosen People. For example, Sizer thinks that Israel is a rejected vineyard tossed into the flames by God.

Can you imagine The Guardian’s liberal-left Comment Is Free publishing praise of Christians who argue that the Curse of Ham extends to all dark-skinned people, and so black people cannot run their own countries? Or publishing praise of Christians who argue that Ishmael’s descendants are cursed, and therefore don’t have a right to run their own countries? Why did CommentIsFree publish a piece in praise of replacement theology-spouting anti-Zionists?

This is not the only disturbing aspect of Ben White’s writings and blog posts. Take his article from 11 January 2006 from The Palestine Chronicle (written four days before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announcement of plans for a Holocaust review conference), in which he argued that Mahmoud Ahmadinjead was not really a Holocaust denier.  Framing his comments in a religious context, White rationalised Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial thus:

‘The news agency goes on though to report that the President described how “some have created a myth on holocaust and hold it even higher than the very belief in religion and prophets because when a person expresses disbelief in God, religion and prophets they do not object to him but they will protest to anyone who would reject the Holocaust”. Again, Ahmadinejad is drawing attention to the extent to which European nations prosecute Holocaust deniers, yet are by and large post-Christian societies with little regard for religion. For a devout believer like the Iranian President, this must seem like a strange situation.’

White also produced this astounding sentence:

‘The Holocaust comes to symbolize the intrinsic anti-Jewish racism of ‘Gentile’ societies, and therefore proving the need for a Jewish state. More disturbingly perhaps, the Holocaust acts as a standard for human depravity set so high, that any treatment of the Palestinians is justifiable, as long as it falls short of what was experienced by the Jews in Nazi Europe.’

But why does White suggest the Holocaust ‘acts as’ or ‘comes to symbolise’ anything? Why does White see Israel’s Holocaust memorial as merely a tool of Zionism, without appreciating that millions of Israelis are simply the descendents of Holocaust survivors, and don’t want the atrocities of Nazi Europe to be forgotten? Or is the Holocaust now All About Zion?

Most offensive is the idea that Israelis gladly mete out cruelty and punishment to Palestinians, and so long as Israel doesn’t actually create gas chambers, Israel will feel it can do what it likes. Does White genuinely believe this? Is White reluctant to show sympathy with the victims of antisemitic violence?

Consider also White’s reaction to the arrest of antisemites in May of this year. White saw the arrest as a ‘fully controlled threat to our freedoms,’ as an FBI agent had infiltrated a group of four men plotting to explode a synagogue in New York. All four plotters now have prison sentences.

So how was this a ‘fully controlled threat to our freedoms’? For Ben White, what are ‘our freedoms’ in this case?

Was this about our freedom to worship in synagogues without fear of terrorist attack, or about our freedom to plot attacks on synagogues so long as we aren’t successful in carrying them out, or don’t actually have explosives?

Did the threat come from the extremists willing to launch terror against innocent Jews, or did the threat come from law enforcement agents seeking to prevent anti-Jewish terrorism?

Once again, amazingly, White appeared to sympathise with those responsible for antisemitism rather than the victims of antisemitism. To add insult to injury, White’s book (intended for ‘beginners’ to Israel/Palestine) contains a recommendation of the writings of French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.

Now ask yourself whether Ben White’s critics always have Zionism in mind, and whether it always is All About Zion? Perhaps it’s about doing unto others as you would have done to you.